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Friday 30 April 2010

Cocktail Hour: The Cyclone Cocktail Mixer

Making cocktails can be tiring, thirsty work. All that stirring and shaking is enough to make me exhausted. I'll take my margaritas without an extra, unnecessary helping of exercise, thanks.

So, if you're as lazy as I am, or maybe you just want to pretend you're in The Jetsons, Back to the Future or some other retro, sci-fi vision of 2010 (weren't we all meant to have hoverboards and robot slaves by now?), then check out this Cyclone Cocktail Mixer, from Giles & Posner.

The latest addition to their range of kitchen gadgets and gizmos, it costs an affordable £14.99, and lets you mix the perfect martini at the push of a button. You add your ingredients, flick the switch, marvel at the beauty of the liquid tornado inside, then pour yourself a drink which I'm sure will taste all the more delicious for having saved yourself that tedious, tiring arm-work. So not only will you be able to knock up refreshments for guests in record time with minimum exertion, with this sexy number sitting pretty on your kitchen counter, you'll look like you're in Red Dwarf. Another childhood dream fulfilled!

Dishy dishes: Katy Leigh Ceramics

Get this name on your radar girls, as Katy Leigh is set put the cool back in ceramics. Hailing from the land of 'The Potteries' (Stoke-on-Trent), Katy's illustrative designs ooze character and charm. She manages to inject personality into regular, run-of-the-mill crockery items by decorating them with quirky wide-eyed faces that peer out at you, knowingly.

Her current work is hand painted onto bisque ware, dip glazed and fired - resulting in a unique piece of art that's practical, as well as pretty. Respectable receptacles, if you will. My favourite being the salt and pepper pots - I can imagine this pair having a gossip on my kitchen worktop whilst I rustle up a ragù.

You can view Katy's items for sale on her website, then contact her directly for further info and ways to purchase. Go take a look - I reckon you'll be bowled over. Heh.

I'm Hooked: Ninja Throwing Star Coat Hooks

Okay, own up. Did you ever have a crush on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when you were a nipper? Or was that just me who spend whole afternoons after school daydreaming about being rescued from villains by Donatello and Raphael (the purple and red ones, if my memory hasn't been too depleted by too many Cosmos over the years)?

Either way, these ninja throwing star coat hooks will have you reminiscing about beloved childhood cartoons and martial arts films every time you go to hang up your coat. Cleverly engineered so that they can be fixed to the wall with just one screw, the fixtures are hidden so that each star will look like it's just been hurled at your wall by a stealthy ninja assassin.

The only hitch is that they'll probably prompt gentleman visitors to regress to a geeky adolescence of practising their karate chops on each other. But as long as they don't break out the nun-chucks, you'll probably be okay. They're £7.99 each, from Unusual Gifts UK.

Blogs we love: Face Goop

It's not often I read beauty blogs (although there are some fab ones around). I have roughly 15 pieces of make-up in the world. I use five of them. They work, I like them, I don't feel like I need anything else, except the occasional whoosh of blue eye liner because the sun is shining.

But, I love Face Goop.

We wrote about the girls behind Face Goop last week. They're also the clever lady girls behind Cruel Tea, and E is the typing voice behind Belgian Waffling. She bakes biscuits that say 'arse' on them. I knew I liked her.

But M and E talk make-up, and lotions and potions. And the world of make-up hasn't really been the same for me since. It's fun. It's silly. And there's snail goo. They also introduced me to the existence of the baby sugar glider, which is the cutest animal in the world. Face Goop is the perfect make-up blog for Domestic Sluts. It gives a nod to the prettiness, it mocks all the science stuff no one understands, and makes you want to buy the shiny things that work. Without having to do any of the hard work yourself. They tried drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water a day, just to see what happens. See? They do all the hard work for you!

Besides, it's really really funny.

The blog is a bit like having a Skype chat with your best mate about that stupid lipstick the orange mac lady forced you to buy. But funnier. We don't often tell you about make-up, but we reckon after one too many gins, the Face Goop girls are just as rubbish as us at taking their slap off before bedtime. So I like them and look forward to their posts popping into my RSS feed. Go and pay them a virtual visit. If only to find out about the snails.

Sexy Stationery: What a To-Do

Do you ever feel like your list of Things That Must Be Attended To is growing and growing? Does it sprawl across the backs of envelopes and into various notebooks? Maybe you just need bigger sheets of paper. Because yes, that's going to make it all go away.

These giant ones are made by design agency Brighten The Corners and are a whopping 500 x 707mm, or B2 for you stationery buffs. Use them to catalogue your shoes, plan your around the world trip or plot your novel. Or use them with these.

Folksy Find: TikiTearaway

Whilst looking for flowers to put in my hair, I stumbled across TikiTearaway on Folksy. Now I don't want flowers in my hair! I want birds and fruit and pretty things! Look:

I want bird clips in my hair. Yes, you may insert a birds nest joke here. It's often true. This little fella is £5.25.

I want owls too. Lots of owls in my hair. Gimme. They're £6.25 and so cute!

Dearest TikiTearaways, please make more of these cherry clips! Stop being out of stock! I want cherries to go in my hair, and frankly, £5 is a bargain.

Expect to always see my with something silly in my hair now.

Thursday 29 April 2010

Book Review: Women's Institute Bread

Just the thought of bread makes me hungry. I'm a bit of a novice at baking it though, having vaguely mastered just one very basic (but very yummy) recipe by Delia Smith. Thankfully, The Women's Institute have come to the rescue with Bread by Liz Herbert.

Herbert has a no nonsense style that doesn't assume you know everything yet doesn't patronise you with explanations about mystery notions such as proving and the vagaries of different kinds of yeast. It's clearly stated that the recipes are written based on making your bread by hand but also provides instructions on how to adapt them for bread machines.

The recipes start with a basic white flour loaf before progressing to ever more complex, yet seemingly achievable, types such as flavoured foccacias and pannetones. I decided to start at the beginning and make the white loaf. The process was clear and easy and reading it felt like having had my gran scribble one of her 'secret' recipes down on the back of an envelope for me. It turned out as it should and barely lasted the afternoon!

Herbert has also featured a lot of wheat, yeast and gluten free recipes which are always useful to have. I'm definitely going to work up the courage (and the practice!) to make my own pannetone at Christmas and enjoy eating through the rest of the book on the way.

Women's Institute: Bread by Liz Herbert (Simon & Schuester), currently available for £6.99 at Waterstone's

It's as simple as Clara Lacey's ABCs

Mention ABCs and you think of kid's alphabets, inevitably ending with a Zebra for 'Z'. Or alternatively, you may cast your mind back to Just Seventeen (R.I.P.) and articles like the 'A to Z of beauty tips' which inevitably ended with the author getting a bit stuck and lamely using 'Zzzzzz' to signify 'beauty sleep' or something similar for their final point.

It's hard to believe that anyone can beat both the likes of children and Just Seventeen for sophistication but I believe Clara Lacey's prints manage it. The letters of the alphabet are represented visually, each based around a different, all grown-up theme. Crafty in the kitchen, gifted in the garden or efficient in the office? There's an ABC for you.

For example, here's her Kitchen ABC. I like the fact that though the objects look random, there's an underlying order to it all which explains why the air freshener is next to the broom and why that's then next to the cat and dish rack.

Not being blessed with green fingers, I'm a bit rubbish at naming everything in the Garden ABC though I imagine it would be really good if you're handy with a pair of secateurs (not pictured). However, even I can tell that this print uses the Just Seventeen fail safe of 'Zzzzz' for the 'Z'. As Clara Lacey otherwise seems to be a very talented lady I'll let her off in this case.

My favourite is the Office ABC. From a rolodex to a zip disk via a xerox machine, there's something about office life that works when presented in this way. The print shows lots of bits and bobs I actually own, like the lego usb stick or the Penguin book mug or indeed the Yorkshire tea. They somehow look a lot prettier in the illustrations than they ever do sat on my desk.

Picked your favourite too? Well, you'll need to move quickly as each print is a limited edition of 50. Buy one for £58 from Elphicks.

Grace Kelly: Pearls T-Shirt

If you have the chance, I heartily recommend going to the Grace Kelly: Style Icon exhibition at the V&A. It's a fashion journey through her transformation from actress to bride to princess, and covers everything from her shirtwaisted dresses to her favourite French designers.

If you can't quite imagine yourself in her signature circle skirts and cinched waists - you'll never get a seat on the bus - then how about this grey "pearls" t shirt? Especially as it's getting warm enough to pack away your cashmere twinsets. It's £20 from the V&A shop.

Bag Lust: Ollie & Nic Apple Bag

I'm not usually a fan of stuff that looks like fruit. Or wicker for that matter. But throw them together, like Ollie & Nic have done with this fabulous apple handbag, and it works really well! Who knew?

This bag was spotted over on the Enchanted Hunters (read it, go read it now) and it's just the right amount of quirky. You wouldn't feel silly walking down the street with it, but you would notice the admiring glances. It's not a bag for the shy and retiring. I love it, and the fact it's only £40 is making me very tempted indeed.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Post-it with the mostest

With all the election coverage you may have missed the important news that Post-it notes are 30 this year. It's a very happy birthday to those little sticky pieces of yellow paper that help us remember to buy milk, remind us to send an email or aid us in passing rude comments to colleagues when in meetings. Since 1980 we've been bombarded with technology to help us do those very same tasks but we remain stuck on Post-its. They're looking good for their age too, with variations available for every taste in stationery.

The Genius pad is made of giant 30cm square Post-it notes and is perfect for big ideas or REALLY LARGE handwriting. You can buy it from the Design Museum shop for £7.50.

Here the Post-it reveals that it too was a child of the 80s with the scented lips design pad. Yes, not only is it in the shape and colour of hot pink lips, it's scented too. My inner 13 year old finds that hugely pleasing. And at £1.99 a pack I might even have been able to afford them back then. When using these, I'll be sure to make all the dots on my 'i's into hearts in true eighties style. Maybe I'll sip on a Fuzzy navel as well.

If you don't want to be square, try these Geometry Post-its at Present & Correct. They come in the 9 different options shown and, with a little imagination, think of the images and pretty patterns you could build with these. Prices range between £4.25 to £4.75 for a pad. If you're really bored at work you could always start working out their combined surface area or something.

As we know, they didn't exist in the 50s but surely these Cavallini sticky notes are the Mad Men of the Post-it world? You get eight different pads in a tin, each pad decorated with lovely retro images of stationery, telephones and typewriters. The set costs £9.25 from Papernation.

Can you stick it? Thanks to Post-its, yes you can.

Bollocks to Baking: Whoopie for Elvis!

It was a while back that we told you about the weird but wonderful baked beauties that are Outsider Tart's Whoopie Pies. But I've been keeping an eye on the US-style boutique bakery ever since, and was intrigued and salivating slightly to learn they've just launched a brand new flavour in honour of fellow Mississippian, the King himself.

Based on Elvis' infamous love of peanut butter, honey, bacon and banana sandwiches browned in a frying pan, they've created an Elvis-themed Whoopie Pie, consisting of a sandwich of two layers of soft cakey-biscuit goodness, filled with a thick creamy concoction of peanut butter, honey and pancetta. They're £3 each from Outsider Tart.

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

Yesterday, to jazz up the fact that my hair was in a pony tail (a very rare thing for me), I grabbed a nearby flower clip on my way out. I've now come to the conclusion that wearing flowers in your hair makes you happier. Apparently there's no sciencey stuff to prove this, but it worked for me.

This cherry blossom comb is meant for weddings, but I think it would look great for any occasion. It's $25 from Emily Wooton's lovely Etsy shop, but you'll have to pay $7 shipping too.

This bright pink flower headband from Miss Selfridge is simple, but it'll do the trick. It's only £6 too.

Flowers and pearls go perfectly together. This hairband from Topshop will look lovely with a summery dress.

Looking for something more extravagant? This lilac flower garland from ButterfliesWing on Etsy is certainly a show stopper. It's $40 with $8 shipping. Still, it's my favourite of the bunch.

Flowers in your hair make you smile. Fact.

Jasper Conran at Debenhams

At 12:30 today, the Domestic Sluts are going to have a bit of a chin-wag with Jasper Conran. Not in person (and we might even still be in our PJs). As part of West End Home Week, he's taking over the Debenhams twitter account, so we'll be chatting to him online.

He'll be talking about his homeware and all things Sluttery, but if you're itching to ask him somrthing, just fire questions over to him on Twitter before 13:30. In the meantime, take a look at some of his range from Debenhams.

I know these champagne flutes are £75, but they are Waterford Crystal. You get two as well.

The prettiest coloured towels ever. These are much more affordable from £2-23. Looking for some boy-friendly towels? The grey ones are very chic indeed.

OK, so this laptop bag isn't exactly homewares, but it's very sexy. It's only £49.99 too.

Wallpaper Wednesday: Brian Yates

This Brian Yates Brocante wallpaper from Tangle Tree is just stunning. It's been designed by the very pretty Pip Studios. I love old botanical books and used to spend hours reading them. This wallpaper reminds me of those. It would look lovely as a feature wall, but also in a hallway as well. It's pale enough to not be too garish, but there's nothing boring about it.

Here's a close up:

The bad news? The design is £130 (and it's not clear if that's for a roll, or the design and area above). It's a pricey option. Maybe I'll cut up all of my mum's old books and get crafty with the Pritstick.

Perfect Purses: The Flick Flack Clutch

Need a clutch to go with all those floral print frocks now the weather's finally warmed up a bit? Then how about this little beauty, by Irregular Choice? It's called the Flick Flack Clutch, and it's made from a durable vinyl fabric, and is available in this blue floral design, or a red and white version patterned with a loveheart print. At 14" by 7", it'll be big enough to house all the essentials, and has two compartments with an inside zip pocket for your valuable bits and bobs. It's £35, from Lunacy Boutique.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Design Porn: Helen Minns

I first spotted Helen Minns over on MyDeco. It's hard not to be taken with this hare lampshade.

And who wouldn't want a cushion with a pheasant on it?

Or cards with sand grouse on them?

I'd quite like this bunny notebook too.

Bollocks to Baking: The Cake Nest

This morning, just as I was making a cup of tea, I heard a thud. Presents! That must be presents coming through the letter box! Domestic Sluttery HQ is sometimes lucky enough to get sent very exciting things and today was no exception. I opened my packages (and left the bills on the table), to be greeted with a slice of cake from The Cake Nest.

That's right, a slice of cake.

Just one slice!? What do I want with just one slice of cake. Stick with me. This idea is genius. I share a house, so often cake doesn't last very long. But if you want to send cakes to someone who lives in their own, or with crazy non-cake loving types, they'll get sent a dozen cakes. No one can eat a dozen cakes in two days. Believe me, I have tried. I made myself very sick. That wasn't a good day. Sugar frosting gives you the worst kind of sugar crash.

I got a tasty piece of carrot cake, to have with my tea, and I'm instantly cheery! Yay! That said, I'm not sure creamy frosting is the best option. It's warm outside and most of my frosting is on the paper, making it all a bit difficult to eat. It's not the best carrot cake I've ever eaten (although I'm still eating whilst typing, it's very nice). I'm enjoying it, but I've only got a slice, I want to be utterly wowed.

*Dusts crumbs of keyboard.*

All finished! It fell a bit short for me, which is a shame, because I love the idea so much. The slices cost £2 each, plus £1.72 shipping (and they come very nicely wrapped too). There's a coffee and chocolate option too, so whilst I wasn't a fan of the carrot cake, I reckon the other flavours might impress me more. Chocablog really liked their chocolate cake. The idea is great, perfect for when you need to say a little thank you, rather than something huge. Much better value than sending a dozen cupcakes, I just wish the cake was utterly fantastic. Then I'd order a slice for each week.

Cocktail Hour: Fuzzy Navel

Peach Schnapps is an acquired taste. It's far too sweet for me, but I know Jane is a big fan. And it seem that a lot of other people are as well. It's something that I remember drinking throughout my teens, but that was it.

But, it's sneaking onto more cocktail menus recently, so I thought I'd give you a recipe for a Fuzzy Navel. It's been around since the 80s. Like most bright and garish things that give you a hangover. Tom Cruise in Cocktail has a lot to answer for.

You'll need:
  • 50ml peach schnapps
  • 50ml orange juice
Shake it!

Pour the schnapps into a glass, top up with orange juice and stir well. Watch 80s Tom Cruise films.

Flickr image from Kanko*'s photostream.

Not too big, not too small. Lisa Stickley Perfectly Formed Crockery

How perfect is this Lisa Stickley range? It's a bit like serious measuring but not at all! Hurrah! I do like not serious stuff. The jug holds 'two pints (or there abouts)'. There abouts measuring is my favourite kind of measuring. Especially with gin.

This mug is 'tremendously tall'. Perfect for drinking tea in the morning.

And this bowl is 'considerably large'. Fab. All of these will make me smile while I have my breakfast. The range starts at an itsy bitsy £7.95 and goes up to a not insignificant £74.95.

Time for Tea: Sagaform Retro Tea Set

How fifties are these Sagaform teacups and saucers? And I mean that in the best possible way, of course. Independent designer Lotta Odelius has revisited these classic retro prints in this range for Illustrated Living. The teacups and saucers are £14.50 each, and the collection also includes matching breakfast bowls, plates, mugs and kitchen storage containers.

They're kitsch and eclectic but still practical and stylish, and they'd be a fab addition to any afternoon tea in the garden, and their fresh, fruity colours mean they'd be a chic choice for teacup cocktails too. They're durable, dishwasher safe and come in a presentation gift box. All we need now is a picnic, a thermos flask and some sunshine!

Etsy Pick: Parisian Gift Tags

I don't care that it's been months since we went on our sluttery travels to Paris. I'm still sulking about having to come back. So predictably, these romantic vintage-style gift tags, by The French Nest Co on Etsy, will soon be mine. They're only 6.50USD for a set of six, embellished with glitter and vintage lace. I'll be using them as gift tags, but they'd be equally sweet as bookmarks or luggage labels. And at this rate, I won't actually face the reality of not being in Paris anymore for at least another few months.

Monday 26 April 2010

Ahoy, Matey: Anchor Cushion from Hunkydory Home

I'm definitely a fan of the clever chaps over at Hunkydory Home, and I'm loving this latest addition to their range of designer cushions. Featuring a buttoned back and filled with feathers to keep you comfortable, each one is handmade with wool felt and embroidery. It's £35, and would be perfect for garden picnics. And with its bright fun colours, it will keep you feeling sunny right through summer and beyond. Now I just need a sailor outfit, some rum and some nautical star tattoos, and I'll be set.

I Rule!

Inspired by the lovely Queen Marie and Queen Michelle over at Kingdom of Style, I'm rather liking the regal thing at the moment. My home is my castle and all that gubbins. So I really do like this 'I Rule' print that I spotted over on Hidden Art Shop. I haven't quite decided what I rule yet (probably cheeses, I rule cheeses), but I do like this rather a lot.

I could rule all of the things I like. Hula Hoops, milkshakes, bright coloured shoes... ahem. I could get quite carried away with this. Want to rule things? Buy this print for £49.99.

Milk! Butter! Eggs! Typography at Sorbet Living

I do rather like this typography range from Sorbet Living. Usually typography on interiors is a little... obvious. And I still think this is, but it's a little ironic as well. The shape of the items, like this butter dish, is so apparent so somehow it works. I like.

The milk jug (£28) looks like it'll be the most popular, but then I saw the egg cups.

I need these! I love the spotty cups, but they're not as cute as the 'egg' ones. They're both £8 each.

Seen any cool typography around recently? Let us know in the comments!

Design Porn: Hollywood Regency Curved Sofa

There's something quite sexy about this sofa from Juliette's Interiors. Maybe it's the flesh pink leather contrasted with the dark wood (I'm a sucker for the pink/black combination), or the fact that it looks like it's straight out of Mad Men.

Either way, when I'm a grown-up with my very own boudoir there'll be a space for this beauty in the corner. And at £2,550, it's a pretty grown-up price.

Book Review: Gizzi's Kitchen Magic

Gizzi Erskine is a sort of sparkly foodie fashionista, who ditched her job as a body piercer to study at Leith's School of Food and Wine before reinventing herself as a food writer and stylist.

Her book, Gizzi's Kitchen Magic, is packed with delicious recipes and beautiful photographs. Better still, the recipes are straightforward and clearly explained.

The book is a nifty cross between a kitchen reference and a glamorous compendium of recipes. Kitchen newbies will find it approachable and packed with useful tips, with a whole chapter on kitchen basics such as kitting out your kitchen with spices and how to understand a recipe. But even seasoned cooks will love the way Gizzi glitzes up the ordinary - think gin & pink grapefruit sorbet, Early Grey chocolate fudge cake and baked seafood and saffron risotto.

I tried Gizzi's method for foolproof shortcrust pastry (pretty effective) and her pan-fried scallps with chorizo, apples & mashed potato (impressive and delicious).

For a preview, take a look at the recipes on Gizzi's website. Or just snap up a copy - RRP is £20 but it's currently £10 on Amazon.

Bollocks to Baking: Coco Bean Handmade Truffles

It's not just cake-based treats that we so selflessly review for Bollocks to Baking. It's confectionery and chocolate too. And last week, the kind folks from Coco Bean very sweetly sent me a box of their handmade truffles. They arrived super-speedily in a dapper ribbon-wrapped box, and inside they looked like this:

At only £8 for this box of 12, including P&P, they're a deliciously indulgent gift idea for someone who needs celebrating or commiserating for whatever reason, and they'd be such a pleasure to receive as a surprise through the post. And for the fickle among us, you can even pick and choose your favourite flavours from this exotic menu, or ask for an assortment like the box above. My personal favourites were the banoffee and caramel options, whilst my beloved waxed lyrical about the vanilla and coconut chocolates. The only hitch is that my midnight adventures to the dodgy corner shop to stuck up on out-of-date Double Deckers don't seem quite as delicious now that I know such gorgeous handmade truffles can be delivered straight to my door.
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